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Police raid Rep. Teves' houses for loose firearms

Police on Friday raided houses belonging to Negros Oriental Representative Arnolfo Teves Jr. in the province in search of loose firearms, Unang Balita reported on Friday, citing Dobol B TV.

The raid was conducted by elements from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of the Philippine National Police.

Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos, in an interview on Dobol B TV, confirmed the raid, saying the search warrant covered five houses although not all of them belonged to Teves.

"Ilan lang diyan ang bahay ni Teves [only some of them belong to Teves]," Abalos said.

Asked if he was referring to Arnolfo Teves, Abalos said, "Gan'un na nga."

A tweet by Super Radyo dzBB's Mark Makalalad, citing the CIDG, said firearms, ammunition and grenades were seized from one of Teves' homes. A caretaker was also arrested.

According to Marisol Abdurahman’s “24 Oras” report on Friday, the firearms and ammunition were found in different parts of the house. 

“Wala pong surrendered, nakita po namin through search, through the implementation of search warrants... May mga nakita pa po kami, [na wala po sa initial information.]," said Police Colonel Thomas Valmonte, CIDG legal division chief.

(These were not surrendered, we searched for them through the implementation of search warrants. We saw more [which were not included in the initial information].)

Abalos said the confiscated firearms had no legal documents.

“Spurious kasi yung mga documents niya, noong araw pa eh. Kaya nga sinasabi ko sa FEO, bakit hindi ninyo pakuha yan?... Dapat ‘yan walang karapatan magdala ng baril ‘yan dahil parang magbigay ka ng spurious documents, talagang hindi pupuwede yan,” Abalos said.

(The documents were spurious. That's why I asked them why didn't you take it away? That person does not have the right to carry firearms because he provided spurious documents.)


Purpose unclear

In a separate interview on Dobol B TV, Atty. Ferdinand Topacio, Teves' counsel, also confirmed the raid but said he has yet to see the search warrant. 

"Hindi pa klaro sa amin kung sino ang hinahanap nila o kung ano ang hinahanap nila [It's not clear who or what they're looking for]," he said.

He said all the occupants of the houses, as well as the lawyers, were not allowed to enter while the raid was ongoing.

"Ikinalulungkot ko, nung dumating yung raiding party may naka-standby po dun na mga tao, mga occupants ay pinalabas po lahat. Pati abugado pinalabas at ayaw papasukin," Topacio said.

(It saddened me that occupants of the houses, including lawyers, were ordered out of the house.)

Topacio said the raid did not come as a surprise as they had received "intel" months ago that Teves' houses will be raided by the police. 

"Itong raid na 'to na-predict na namin ito. Almost three months I think noong nag-press conference kami ni Congressman Arnie Teves dito sa Valle Verde Country Club, na intel po sa amin na talagang ire-raid itong mga bahay," Topacio said.

(This raid did not come as a surprise to us. We had an intel about it three months ago, and then we held a press conference with Congressman Arnie Teves in Valle Verde Country Club.)

In January, Teves accused Abalos of exerting efforts to secure a search warrant on his residence and plant evidence against him.

Abalos, in response, called the accusation 'preposterous.'

Topacio, in the radio interview, said they are trying to reach Teves, who is in the United States, to inform him about the raid.

Degamo slay

The raid on the houses was launched a day after two suspects pointed to a certain “Cong Teves” as the one who allegedly ordered the hit on Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo, who was killed at his residence in Pamplona town on March 4.

Asked if the raid is connected with Degamo’s killing, Abalos said there were statements about illegal firearms during the investigation into the murder complaints recently filed against Teves for killings committed in 2019.

“During that time of the investigation, this is in relation to 2019 -- hindi ito kay Governor Degamo, ibang kaso ito, yung finile nila kailan lang -- 'yun nga may nakita silang mga statements about illegal firearms,” he said.

(During that time of the investigation in relation to the 2019 killings -- this is not related to the Degamo case, it is a different case that was filed recently -- the police obtained statements about illegal firearms.)

Two arrested suspects, Joric Labrador and Benjie Rodriguez, both former soldiers, earlier said a certain “Cong Teves” ordered the hit on Degamo.

The Police Regional Office (PRO7), meanwhile, said it has acquired information that Teves was the alleged mastermind in the killing of Degamo as early as when the suspects were arrested.

“The declarations made publicly earlier by one of the suspects in Gov. Degamo's killing were information that we already acquired from the moment we arrested the four suspects six hours from the incident,” the PRO7 said in a statement.

It said they already had the information “at hand at the early stage of the conduct of massive hot pursuit operations, we maintained that these be revealed in due time not to compromise the conduct of investigations.”

Teves denial

In a video message on Monday, Teves denied that he and his brother Henry were involved in the killing of Degamo amid allegations that the incident was politically motivated.

The Teveses are political rivals of the Degamo family.

In the video message, Teves noted that his family will not benefit from Degamo's death.

In a message to reporters on Thursday, Topacio urged “all concerned” to “observe sobriety in their pronouncement regarding the allegations against Rep. Arnie Teves in the face of certain accusations against him in connection with the killing of Governor Roel Degamo and several other persons.”

During the dzBB interview, Topacio said Teves will not hide from authorities and is ready to face the accusations against him.

“Ang ina-assure niya po sa akin ay haharapin niya po itong mga kasong ito and titignan lang po natin kasi masyadong mabilis naman po yung developments,” Atty. Ferdinand Topacio told Super Radyo dzBB.

When asked if Teves will not hide, Topacio answered, “Oo naman po [Yes, of course].”

Degamo and five others were killed while 13 others were injured in the March 4 attack conducted while the governor was distributing aid to his constituents at his residence. The death toll increased to nine the following day.

Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) spokesperson Police Lieutenant Colonel Gerard Ace Pelare on Thursday said they are looking at 16 suspects in the killing.

Murder and frustrated murder charges have been filed against four suspects identified as Joric Garido Labrador, Joven Calibjo Javier, Benjie Rodriguez, Osmundo Rojas Rivero, and 12 John Does before the Tanjay City Regional Trial Court.

Charges of illegal possession of firearms, ammunition, and explosives were also filed against three individuals before the Bayawan City Regional Trial Court.

According to Pelare, the 16 suspects include 10 direct participants, while the others were facilitators, conspirators, and the mastermind.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla on Wednesday claimed that the "end is near" in the Degamo case investigation. — Richa Noriega/ KBK/ VAL, GMA Integrated News